EDITORIAL: State GOP Achieves Robust Ballot for 2012

HNN Staff
EDITORIAL:  State GOP Achieves Robust Ballot for 2012

While neither major political party can boast maximum strength right now, we have to hand it to the WV Republican Party for finally filling the top of the ballot with quality candidates.  The often heard complaint from Independents and conservative Democrats, looking for an alternative to the Democratic Party's slate, is that the Republicans don't run any serious candidates for many positions.  They can't say that this year.

With the return of John Raese and Bill Maloney for the top two offices of U.S. Senate and Governor respectively, the Republicans have two seasoned campaigners who can raise the funds necessary to compete in all 55 counties.  Both men have what voters seem to be wanting this year--successful business experience--and can be expected to run aggressive races against Democratic incumbents Joe Manchin and Earl Ray Tomblin.  Competition benefits everyone, particularly the voters.  We expect those two races will sharpen everyone involved in them.

But the Party of Lincoln doesn't stop there.  In the Congressional races this year, First District Congressman David McKinley, with $1 million already raised for the 2012 race, was able to scare off his chief rival, former State Senator Mike Oliverio of Monongalia County.  McKinley looks to face only token Democratic opposition in 2012 but watch for him to take nothing for granted, as he has shown himself to be the "Energizer Bunny" along the campaign trail throughout his Northern West Virginia district.

Second District Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito faces her first primary competitors in years:  Berkeley County Delegate Jonathan Miller and Randolph County's Michael Davis.  Even so, it is a sign of the growing strength of the West Virginia GOP that even a veteran Congresswoman like Capito has to share the stage for the next few months with two up and coming Republicans. 

And longtime incumbent Third District Democratic Congressman Nick Joe Rahall has attracted three Republicans, vying for the opportunity to challenge Rahall in the fall.  Lee Bias of Cabell, Bill Lester of Raleigh, and current Raleigh County Delegate Rick Snuffer.  What motivates all these Republicans to join in the fray this year?  Do they know something we don't?

In addition, all of the other statewide offices have serious Republican candidates running in 2012 as well.  Former Delegate Larry Faircloth of Berkeley County is running for Auditor against the venerable Democratic incumbent, Glen Gainer; longtime Putnam County Delegate Mike Hall is hoping to challenge State Treasurer John Perdue, whose last run for Governor impressed few; Hardy County's Mike Teets is running for the open seat of Agriculture Commissioner; and Mason County Delegate Brian Savilla is ready to take on Democratic Secretary of State Natalie Tennant. 

The Republicans even have filled the ballot for both of the State Supreme Court seats up for grabs in 2012 in author and attorney Allen Loughry and Jefferson County's popular Circuit Judge and former State Senator John Yoder, who ran a very close race for Supreme Court in 2010.

Perhaps the biggest surprise for the GOP this year was in finding the right candidate to finally dislodge Democratic Attorney General Darrell McGraw from his perch as Attorney General.   In Jefferson County's Patrick Morrisey, they may have found their man. 

Morrisey has developed a national law practice with the estimable King and Spalding firm in Washington, D.C.  Conservatives in both parties should like the fact that he assisted in the multi-state lawsuit challenging Obamacare in federal court.  Look for Morrisey to run a spirited race against McGraw this year.

Of course, the very top of the ticket matters in Presidential election years, and while we don't know yet whom the Republican candidate will be, we know that President Barack Obama will be at the top of the Democratic ballot.  This portends badly for Democrats, especially those who do not have a pre-existing solid base of support on their own.  Obama is less popular in West Virginia than almost any other state in the Union and has lost here by a huge margin first to Hillary Clinton in the 2008 Democratic primary, then to Republican Senator John McCain in that year's general election. 

The Obama Administration's relentless challenge to the West Virginia coal industry, along with the controversial Obamacare health plan and the lackluster trillion dollar stimulus package doesn't make it easy on Democrats on the ballot here.   Also, a traditionally pro-military state like West Virginia may not concur with Obama's plans for radically scaling back the nation's military budget.

If Mike Stuart, Chairman of the WV GOP, can get his Republican team to pull in the same direction this fall, West Virginia may finally have the two-party system it has lacked since 1932, securing several victories this November.  Time will tell.   



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